Bonington, like many of his contemporaries, was attracted to history painting because it was more prestigious than landscapes or domestic scenes. His career was too short for his talents to be fully developed, but he completed and exhibited several major history pictures. This work, shown at the Royal Academy shortly before his death, shows King Henri III (1551–1589), of France, a notoriously indolent and effeminate monarch, receiving Don John of Austria, the illegitimate son of the Emperor Charles V. The louche king and his minions are contrasted with the manly vigour of Don John.
Where to see this painting?
The Wallace Collection
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